Assessment Procedure for Permanent Trailers

Ontario's highest court rules that trailers in campgrounds are assessable to the underlying owner of the land

January 23, 2008

On January 14, 2008, Ontario's highest court, the Court of Appeal, ruled that trailers in campgrounds are assessable in the name of the owner of the underlying land.

An October 2006 decision of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario (Carsons' Camp Limited v. the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and the Corporation of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula) had ruled that trailers should not be assessed. All parties had agreed that the trailers were permanently placed on the land. However, they did not agree that the value of the trailers could be included in the owner's current value assessment because of the definition of current value assessment in the Assessment Act.

That decision had been appealed to the Court of Appeal by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, the Attorney General of Ontario, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula and several other municipalities that had been allowed by the Court to be parties to the appeal.

The Court of Appeal has overturned the lower court's decision and has determined that the value of the trailers can be included in the owner's current value assessment. The court's decision was based on the broad definition of 'land' in the Assessment Act. "Land" includes all structures placed on the land and the Act does not require that the owner of the underlying land own the structure.

After a history of differing rulings on this issue, MPAC was seeking clarity, and we appreciate the court's direction.

Some previous courts had ruled that trailers should be assessed, and this appeal upholds that decision.

MPAC's job is to accurately assess properties in Ontario within legislative requirements.

This ruling means that requirements regarding the assessment of trailers have now been confirmed by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Background and History:

In 1987, the Supreme Court of Ontario upheld the assessments that had been placed on trailers by the then Ministry of Revenue.

In 1990, the Ministry placed a moratorium on the assessments of these trailers to find a resolution that was acceptable to municipalities, the Ontario Private Campground Association and the Government of Ontario.

Following the moratorium, MPAC did not add new trailers to the assessment rolls.

The moratorium was never put into law. This led to challenges against MPAC for inconsistent treatment of trailers.

In one situation, a municipality brought action against both the property owners and MPAC because trailers were not assessed.  All parties agreed that the trailers were assessable.

As a result, MPAC began to inspect seasonal trailer parks across Ontario during 2003, 2004 and 2005, and to assess units that were permanently placed on the land.

MPAC developed assessment criteria to ensure that only those trailers that were permanently placed on the land were assessed. 

For more information, contact Rose McLean at (905) 837-6176

Updated October 30, 2006

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Note: This procedure has been developed to provide the public with a general understanding of the assessment procedures for permanent trailers. The applicable law prevails to the extent there is any conflict between the procedure and the relevant law.

Note: The applicable law prevails to the extent there is any conflict between this information and the current law. This information is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.